7 Reasons We Must be Patient with Church Members

I’ve heard pastors jokingly say that they would love ministry more if they didn’t have to deal with people. There are days when I understand that perspective, but I also know that most of us have to learn to be patient with church members. Here are some reasons why:

  1. Jesus, our role model, was patient with His disciples. That’s not to say that He didn’t get righteously exasperated with them (He did), but I suspect He was much more patient with them than we might have been.
  2. Patience is a witness of the Spirit in our lives. We model the long-suffering love of God when we extend that ongoing, persistent love for others. One scholar even describes this trait as, “the quality of ‘putting up with’ other people, even when one’s patience is sorely tried.”[1]
  3. In many cases, somebody’s also been patient with us. Of course, God has been patient with all of us. We also have Christian friends, pastors, and spouses who’ve been more patient with us than we deserve. Some of us are where we are because somebody didn’t give up on us quickly.
  4. Many church members are themselves undiscipled. We’ve now raised generations of believers without an intentional discipleship strategy in many churches, and the result has been stagnant believers. Sometimes no one’s ever personally led them to growth in Christ.
  5. They are often under stress unbeknownst to us. Perhaps they’re simply private, and they haven’t shared their burden. Maybe it’s embarrassing. It might be so new that they haven’t had time to process it. The point is that we don’t always know what they’re facing when we get frustrated with them–especially in these most unusual days. 
  6. Sometimes they’re not truly believers. Jesus had a fake among His group, and we will, too. We can’t expect unregenerate church members to act any differently than other non-believers do.
  7. We occasionally expect church members to quickly buy into something we’ve been considering for months. We’ve usually had time to consider things before we take them to the church, but we don’t often give them much time to prayerfully consider their response after we’ve told them. Trusting leaders is important, but so is helping church members understand decisions and directions.

What would you add to this list?


[1] R. A. Cole (1989), Galatians: An Introduction and Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1989), 221.


  • mark says:

    While it is an admirable goal to be patient with people, people are also told to be patient with the leadership even with not-too-nimble leaders as well as the incompetent ones. There is a small (10 %) part of your congregation who you think are hard to deal with but who seem like 90%. The 90% are just a silent majority often silenced by the 10%. You also must remember that there is some % of people in your congregation who are completely ignored anyway. I am not sure of the number but I can tell you that they do exist. Now some of the ignored are just unwanted for various reasons.

  • Dave Pierce says:

    As a new pastor in the 1980’s I was convicted by Paul’s words to Timothy:”The Lord’s bond servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant him repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” 2 Tim.2:24-26

  • Charles Kile says:

    Currently I am being Patient with a Godly person on the edge of homelessness. Being Patient I soon learned the he creates a crisis in his life so others can financially support his life style. Without patience I would have never realized that this Godly person uses people for financial reasons. He is now in a homeless VA program and out of a house he was using a single mother finances with no reason of leaving.

  • Cynthia says:

    “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” Philo of Alexandria It helps me remember patience, love, kindness when I’m irritated, to say the least.

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